Average Quincy home’s tax bill to rise 2.2%
Quincy city councilors last week voted to increase the average property tax bill on a single-family home by 2.2 percent this fiscal year, a number that meets, barely, Mayor Thomas Koch’s promise to keep any hike under $100.
Overall, the city’s property tax revenue is expected to rise from approximately $168 million to $174 million. Although that’s a 3.6 percent increase, it still falls well below the Proposition 2 1/2 threshold, which would have allowed the city to increase the levy by $20 million this fiscal year.
Under the figures approved Monday, property tax rates in fiscal 2012 will rise to $13.75 per $1,000 assessed valuation from $13.42 last year for residential taxpayers, and to $28.66 from $27.85 for commercial properties.
For the average single-family home, the resulting tax bill is expected to rise $97, to $4,469 from $4,372.
The tax rise comes after two years of no tax increases, which mayoral spokesman Christopher Walker called “unprecedented and unmatched’’ in the region.
Quincy is also among the top three towns in the state with the largest excess levy capacity - or the unused amount of taxes that the city could have levied under Proposition 2 1/2. The state law limits a community’s increase in property tax revenue to 2.5 percent a year, plus revenue from new growth.
Only Cambridge, with an excess levy of $99 million, beats Quincy’s $20 million. Marlborough was a close third.
Although the excess levy means that the city government can increase taxes up to that $20 million mark going forward, city officials said residents shouldn’t be worried.
“We want to make sure [residents] don’t think of it as an implied threat,’’ said chief of staff James Fatseas. “If we wanted to, we could raise [taxes that much] . . . that’s not the intention. But should there be a catastrophic issue, should there be a reason . . . we are not up against Prop. 2 1/2, or pressed up against levy capacity. That is a favorable situation when our bonding agencies come to take a look at us, and it helps with our credit rating.’’
Although the city said the budget is still well below the levels of two years ago, the cuts made this year to sustain the tax increase will not affect services.
Most notably, the city has been able to save money by switching to health coverage through the state’s Group Insurance Commission, Walker said.
“I don’t think we’d be able to make this happen without such a substantial thing’’ as the GIC, Walker said. “If you look nationwide, cities and towns are fighting over this thing. But here in Quincy, we sat down at the table and came up with a plan savings tens of millions of dollars. It’s a large part of how we got here today.’’
Elsewhere, the city reduced the budget for long-term debt interest by $54,844 and reduced department budgets by a total of $617,337 (all reduced by the amount of money not used in the prior year).
Additionally, the city took $908,740 from unappropriated hotel/motel tax dollars and put that toward debt service, and used $4.5 million of free cash from fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, to pay off the majority of the snow and ice deficit accounts from the same fiscal year.
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at email@example.com.